EFSA reports progress on flavour evaluations

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, European food safety authority

The European Food Safety Authority is expecting to complete its
evaluation of the safety of 2,800 flavouring substances by April to
allow for a positive list to be established, but is seeking for
more information from industry.

The European risk assessor was given the task of re-evaluating additives approved for use in the EU by the Commission, since in some cases much time had elapsed - and some new safety information had become available - since they were first cleared for use. In total, European member states identified 2,800 flavourings permitted for use on or in foodstuffs, and these have been divided into 48 groups by their chemical make-up. EFSA's AFC panel has been looking into intake levels, absorption, metabolism and toxicity of individual substances in humans. While in some cases the AFC panel (on additives, flavourings, processing aids and food contact materials) has found the safety evidence to be present and correct, there are some gaps in the data, it said. In these cases - which have not been specified - EFSA is reverting to industry to request further information on matters such as production volumes, toxicology information that may need further research, and in vitro and in vivo testing. The authority said that the evaluation will be used to inform a positive list of flavourings. However a spokesperson for the European Commission had not responded prior to deadline to clarify whether the positive list forms part of the Food Improvement Agent Package (FIAP), a new piece of legislation currently in the works. Nonetheless, one flavouring that will certainly not be making it onto the list is 2-methyl-1, 3-butadiene, also known as isoprene. Due to the findings of animal studies looking at carcinogenicity and genotoxicity, it was deemed that there is enough evidence to question its safety with certainty. "Given the available date on possible risks, EFSA finds that isoprene should not go forward for further evaluation,"​ it said. A spokesperson for EFSA told FoodNavigator.com that an opinion of isoprene's safety is likely to be issued, but she played down the relevance to the industry since there are indications that, although permitted, it is not actually being used in foods anymore. This, she said, is a rather different situation than for Red 2G, the colouring used in some meat products until it was found by EFSA last year to be a potential carcinogen and subsequently banned. The 2,800 registered flavourings under evaluation include naturally occurring products from animals and vegetables, as well as artificial substances.

Related topics: Flavours and colours, Policy

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